Tuesday, 17 January 2017

India and a 10 day blog challenge: Photographing the Extremes of Humanity, Culture and Chaos!

I have decided to take a 10 day Freedom Plan blog challenge run by Natalie Sisson.  The challenges are to identify 2-3 biggest challenges I face stopping me from living a life of freedom.

After returning from leading a World Challenge expedition in Southern India and Rajasthan, being back in Aotearoa, New Zealand is a blessing.  And once again I have gained a new perspective on where my life is presently at.

Back in NZ I drink water and clean my teeth from a tap,  I stand in a que without three others trying push over me. drove a car and at the intersection, I am the only one in line (the other opposite car was on the other side of the white line, and no one tooted their horn).  I stand outside and deeply breathe the cleanest air you can imagine. I stand and look up in the quiet part of the night and lose count of the endless stars I can see.   However, don't let that put you off travelling and visiting other parts of the world.  It was worth every second!

 Kerala Fishing and Spice Industry
I work as an outdoor facilitator, instructor and guide, and more so am passionate about photography. I have just started my own company Andy Thompson Photography NZ Ltd, and am now looking at ways to earn income from photography, my love of interacting with people and outdoor leadership skills. I love to blend these professions.

The job in India was to lead an expedition with 18 people.  To me, this is nothing short of 'exciting'.  Especially when your task is to guide people in a foreign country you have never been, don`t speak the local language, and 16 of your clients are 16/17 year old with two unknown adults.  What an edgy and brilliant prospect!

Initially, I thought I would have little chance for photography, however, as it turns out I had plenty.  I just had to divide my brain up into safety work, leading/facilitating and taking opportunities to snap the camera. India is a smorgasbord of potential images.  I would go back in a 'flash' to catch more.

Our first destination was Southern India, Kerala, Fort Cochin.  This is the land of the spice and fishing industry.  Kerala boasts one of the highest literacy rates and has more females than males as a population.  It feels easy and calm to be around.  There is a smaller division between cast systems however differences between poverty and the rich are still evident.  Link to map of Kerala.

Fishing boats and large nets were a wonderful ground to get my head into shooting.  However, with a group of 18 people and fresh into the country, I had not quite got into the groove.  It would have been better to shoot at sunset and repositioned myself many times over.  And getting to know some local people would help the shoot for real candid images.

Alleppey is one of the many destinations we stayed.  This is a beach area many people visit for holidays.  Swimming in the ocean is a warm welcome to the heat of the day. At Alleppey, accommodation near the beach is easy to find.  I highly recommend Wind n Waves.  The owner Harri, was outstanding for his help and service.  It's a clean and wonderfully relaxed place to stay. Here I slowly tuned with India and the idea of photographing, while still leading my expedition well.

There is a new cafe on the beach front, their pancakes and coffee are yummy.  The guy who started it is often found sleeping on the veranda in the morning.  I caught him out one morning while in search of breakfast. It was quite funny.  After he woke, he just stood up, shook his large mop of hair, took my order and trotted downstairs to cook it - no problems!

I would get up early (before my students did) which is always a great time to be up and wander along the beach.  It was not uncommon to see fishermen returning from their morning catch.  During the day they would tend to their nets, play cards and consider their next trip to harvest fish to sell.  Check out my 'The Deal' image.

Kerala, India

 Alleppey Beach
Late into the evening, they would cast their boats on the beach to welcome a warm breeze for the night as the sun set.  You can see more images on Kerala at

What is holding me back from living a life that allows me to develop my photography?  What are my biggest challenges? Well, I think I am living an amazing life!  I have many freedoms in my work already and am grateful for the colleagues and employment I have.  They are great people!  What I have not yet cornered is a way to develop my photographic aspect of my business.  I need to get a focus on this (excuse the pun) and start to earn an income from my skills in photography.  I would love to combine this with teaching and bring messages to others that will inspire people to change habits and make a difference to look after our planet.

So back to my challenge?  I love my present job however, would like to branch my skills and experience outwards.  I need to develop business opportunities to earn active and residual revenue.  My biggest challenge is keeping clear about my goals and developing a business strategy on how am I going to do this?  I welcome any comments for ideas and advice so I can learn from you.

Andy Thompson
Andy Thompson Photography NZ

 10 Day Blog Challenge

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1

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